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Former Shorts HQ and Imperial Buildings among sites considered for protection

By Rebecca Black

Published 21/10/2015

Former Shorts Brothers HQ, Airport Road, Belfast
Former Shorts Brothers HQ, Airport Road, Belfast

An old mill, the former headquarters of Short Brothers and the stately Imperial Buildings in Belfast city centre are among the latest historic buildings being considered for listing.

Buildings are listed if they are found to be of special architectural or historic interest.

The Department of the Environment has drawn up a shortlist of nine buildings.

These buildings vary hugely in style - from William Bready's 1964 modernist chapel at Dominican College in north Belfast, which has an unusual wedge shaped and swept curvilinear roof, to the Baroque-style four-storey Imperial Buildings designed by W J Gilliland in 1907.

Several industrial buildings have also made the list. These include the Portmore Trading Estate on the Newtownards Road, which comprises a late 19th century spinning mill constructed with traditional Belfast red brick.

There's also the Blackstaff Mill on the Springfield Road, a traditional 19th century flax spinning mill. It has been assessed as historically significant as it marked the start of the boom in the Irish linen industry in the mid-1860s as a consequence of the American Civil War and resultant cotton famine.

But the best known industrial building on the list is probably the grand former headquarters of Short Brothers. The Airport Road structure was constructed to be the lynchpin of the aircraft manufacturing business.

Its central entrance bay is a pedimented gabled two-storey limestone entrance screen with an art deco-style and geometric detailing. The original art deco staircases inside have also been preserved.

Two Protestant churches have also made the list, Cavehill Methodist Church and Newington Presbyterian Church, both in north Belfast and both designed by prestigious architecture firm Young and MacKenzie, which counts the Scottish Provident Building in its portfolio.

Cavehill Methodist Church dates back to 1955 and is a two-storey red brick building in a modern style featuring a distinctive tower to the centre of the principal elevation, diamond-patterned cast iron openwork and copper spike.

Newington Presbyterian was built in 1951 to a rectangular plan and more classical style.

The list was revealed in the minutes of Belfast City Council's planning committee, which met last night. It is set to consider whether to back the proposals for listing.

The shortlist

  • Chapel at Dominican College, 38 Fortwilliam Park, Belfast
  • Cavehill Methodist Church, 92-114 Cavehill Road, Belfast
  • Newington Presbyterian Church, Limestone Road, Belfast
  • Newington Presbyterian Church Hall, Limestone Road, Belfast
  • Blackstaff Mill, 77-129 Springfield Road, Belfast
  • Former Shorts Brothers HQ, Airport Road, Belfast
  • Portmore Trading Estate, 310 Newtownards Road, Belfast
  • Imperial Buildings, 70-74 High Street, 19-21 Skipper Street, Belfast
  • 108 North Street & 1 Gresham Street, Belfast

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